Working on Fire to help fireproof Cape St Francis

Working on Fires St FrancisWorking on Fire (WOF), which started in 2003, is an Expanded Public Works Programme aimed at providing work opportunities to young men and women. The Programme resides under, and is funded by, the Department of Environmental Affairs. Participants are recruited from marginalised communities and trained in fire awareness and education, fire prevention and fire suppression skills, including bush clearing.

The difference with other “working on programmers“ is that WOF employs more than 5000 young men and women permanently who have been fully trained as wildfire firefighters and are stationed in more than 200 bases throughout South Africa. WOF addresses the prevention and control of wildland fires to enhance the sustainability and protection of life, properties and the environment through the implementation of Integrated Fire Management solutions.

They are no strangers to the area having previously been deployed to the area to assist and to fight fires.

Starting in the week of 3 August, a team from Working on Fire will be clearing existing firebreaks in the Irma Booysen and Cape St Francis Reserves in order to prepare Cape St Francis for the summer fire season. Work will begin near the tennis courts and then proceed towards the Birkenhead and Diaz entrances of the Irma Booysen reserve. The work is being organized in partnership between the KOUGA Municipality and FOSTER.

It is well known that uncontrolled fires have caused extensive damage to properties in this area over the past few years. Maintains existing Fire breaks and the clearing of bush and aliens is an essential part of preventing fires from damaging properties and infrastructure should they occur.

FOSTER - friends of St Francis nature areas

More than 1 000 LED lights to brighten Kouga

Kouga’s future is looking bright.

More than 1 000 streetlights and floodlights across the region have been retrofitted with LED lights.

LED Lights for Kouga

Kouga Mayor Horatio Hendricks and Speaker Hattingh Bornman, with the LED lights that are being rolled out across the region.

“The advantage of LED lights is that they are brighter than conventional bulbs but actually use less energy and last longer, which brings with it cost benefits,” said Kouga Executive Mayor Horatio Hendricks.

He said the programme was rolled out in the 2019/20 financial year after the municipality’s Electrical Services section secured R4-million from the national Department of Energy for Energy Efficiency Demand Side Management (EEDSM).

“Municipalities are able to apply for this funding to roll out projects such as streetlight replacements and to increase the energy efficiency of municipal buildings and assets such as pump stations,” he explained.

“It, therefore, presented us with an excellent opportunity to decrease the region’s electricity usage, especially during peak periods when Eskom charges a higher tariff, without compromising on quality.

“Reducing energy consumption is also good for the environment and in line with our efforts to keep Kouga green.”

He said the project had included the replacement of 161 1000W floodlights with 400W LEDs while 80 400W floodlights had been replaced with 200W LEDs. A further 860 125W streetlights had been replaced with 37W LEDs.

“The funding also made provision for job creation, which enabled us to employ six youths from the area for a period of three months.”

He said the project had been complemented with an awareness drive to encourage residents to minimise their electricity usage between the peak hours of 5pm and 7pm and 6am and 9am.

“I would like to congratulate our Electrical Services team for successfully implementing the project despite the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown.  

“Going forward, the LED lights will save the municipality money while staff will also have more time to attend to other projects aimed at improving service delivery to communities.”

He said the municipality would be applying for more funding as part its commitment towards service excellence and cutting down on carbon emissions to help save the planet by supporting green energy.      

He said the aim was to roll out the programme to towns within Kouga fed by Eskom, so as to reduce the streetlight bill from Eskom in those areas as well.

New wheels for electricity team

More than 50 new vehicles have been purchased over the past four years to strengthen Kouga Municipality’s fleet. 

Among the latest acquisitions are five brand new bakkies for the municipality’s Electrical section. 

New wheels for electricity team

Mayor Horatio Hendricks, Electrical Services manager Theo Madatt, Infrastructure and Engineering Portfolio Councillor Bryan Dhludhlu and Infrastructure & Engineering director Victor Felton joined staff from the Electrical section for the hand-over on Friday.

“The municipal fleet was in complete disrepair when we took over the Council in 2016,” said Executive Mayor Horatio Hendricks. 

“At the time only 4% of the vehicles were operational. Four years later we can proudly say that 98% of the fleet is in working order, enabling staff to get where they need to go to keep Kouga serviced.” 

Acting Fleet manager, Nico Gouws, handed over the branded vehicles to Electrical Services manager Theo Madatt and his team on Friday. 

Also at the hand-over was Kouga Infrastructure and Engineering Portfolio Councillor Bryan Dhludhlu, who welcomed the extra wheels for the section. 

“It is essential that our Electrical team has reliable transport as they have to travel across Kouga to do new installations, maintenance or repairs,” he said. 

“They used to rely on 12 bakkies, of which two were constantly breaking down.

“The new bakkies will enable them to respond to call-outs sooner and improve this service to communities.”

Kouga Municipality’s Electrical section is responsible for the network in Jeffreys Bay, Humansdorp and the greater St Francis area. 

“Eskom and Nelson Mandela Bay are responsible for the supply in Hankey, Patensie, Loerie and Thornhill, but the Kouga team also looks after the electrical requirements of all municipal buildings, facilities and high mast lights in those areas,” he said. 

He said the municipality’s Fleet section had also refurbished three old cherry pickers for the Electrical team. 

“The cherry pickers are now as good as new. This has greatly helped to improve the response time for electrical faults.”

Mix Of Youth and Experience In Rip Curl E-Pro Online Surf Event

E-Pro SurfingWith just a few days to go before the launch of the Rip Curl E-Pro Online Surf Event, the entries are being finalized, and the draw is being done.

The Rip Curl E-Pro virtual surfing event comprises 48 men and 8 women, competing for prize money and bragging rights. There is R10k first prize for both men and women, there is an R10k Red Bull Best Tube Award, and there is R10k worth of Oakley products in the mix.

There is a healthy mix of surfers included in this inaugural virtual surfing event. It is encouraging to see some of the younger surfers entering into the spirit of things and coming up against the older, more established surfers in the country.

This contest has always been about having fun. It serves to provide some valuable coverage for surfers and their sponsors in a time when nothing is happening in South Africa in the way of surf tournaments. 

The Surf Web Series is a global online tour. South Africa will be the second event, after Mexico. After the SA event, the tour moves to Japan and then to Australia. More about the tour can be found on the Surf Web Series website.

The Rip Curl E-Pro Women’s event came about with support from the Kouga Municipality and from Rip Curl. It is a stand-alone event with R10,000 first prize, and it takes place during August, which is Women’s Month in South Africa. In a verbal agreement with Councillor Williams, the Municipality decided to get behind the event and the Kouga region surfers. The waves and the surfers of JBay and environs will play a big part in the virtual tournament.

Entries include top-rated women surfers like Zoe Steyn (EL) and Ceara Knight from Cape Town. Faye Zoetmulder will be representing the Kouga Region, and Anastasia Venter, the 13-year-old from Cape Town’s West Coast has entered. The rest of the surfers in the women’s event will be announced soon. 

In the Rip Curl E-Pro Men’s event, the competitive JBay surfers Dylan Lightfoot and former world longboard champ Steve Sawyer are looking determined. Still, they will face off against the likes of Eli Beukes and Luke Slijpen from Cape Town. 

Chad Du Toit from Durban has also been on a tear lately, and the Durban crew of Chad, the Redman brothers Josh and Dan, as well as Brandon Jackson, are all committed and looking good. Surprise Maphumulo has also entered, to see how he fares against the best surfers in the country. Surprise is a High Performance Surfing Academy surfer and has a bright future ahead of him. 

Shane Sykes, also from Durban is in the mix, as well as Dale Staples from St Francis Bay, and Joshe Faulkner from Pellsrus. Durban’s Davey Van Zyl has a few absolute banger clips as well, and could easily steal the thunder.

The heats start running on 1 August and will be hosted on the Surf Open League Instagram account – @surfopenleague

When the event begins, the heats can also be viewed on the Surf Open League Facebook Page.

Rip Curl, the Ultimate Surfing Company…
The Rip Curl E-Pro is presented by Shaka Surf.

Shaka Surf is an eco surf store specialising in 100% sustainable surf products, including surf fins made from recycled plastics. Our mission is to reduce plastic waste and create awesome eco surf fins

Rip Curl, the Ultimate Surfing Company…


The Rip Curl E-Pro is presented by Shaka Surf.

Shaka Surf is an eco surf store specialising in 100% sustainable surf products, including surf fins made from recycled plastics. Our mission is to reduce plastic waste and create awesome eco surf fins

Oakley is an event partner

The Rip Curl E-Pro is supported by Surfing South Africa. is the Rip Curl E-Pro media partner. 

 The Rip Curl E-Pro is powered TCS-WiFi/

The Rip Curl E-Pro is supported by the Kouga Municipality


“Safe and secure” pathway project helps reduce crime in St Francis Bay

A R1.7-million pedestrian pathway project in the coastal resort town of St Francis Bay has proved a hit with the community, reducing incidents of crime on residents walking to and from work while upskilling previously unemployed youths and women from the area

Before the new pathway linking the community of Sea Vista with the St Francis Bay CBD was built, the preferred pedestrian route into St Francis Bay was an often dangerous, bare earth track through the industrial area, which became muddy when it rained.

Sea Vista Pathway

SAFE PASSAGE: St Francis Bay pizza chef, Siyamthanda Adams, says a new R1.7m pathway linking St Francis and the Sea Vista community has changed the lives of Sea Vista residents. The new pathway, decorated with mosaic art from the local community, also boasts CCTV and lighting, keeping pedestrians safe as they walk to and from work. (Image supplied)

The need for the 800m engineered pathway – which also features CCTV, lighting, landscaping, and mosaic art – was identified by the Kouga Wind Farm Community Development Trust, an Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) funded initiative, for the benefit of local communities who were consulted and included throughout the project. The trust has a 26% stake in the Kouga Wind Farm and uses its share of the project’s profits to fund socio-economic and small business development projects, such as the pathway.

Local pizza chef Siyamthanda Adams, who lives in Sea Vista, said she used the path to walk to and from work – often returning late at night after her shift at Pizza @ 167 in St Francis Bay ended.

“The challenges which Sea Vista residents faced before the new path was built included being mugged and attacked en route to and from town, because the informal path was dark and surrounded by trees. It was really not safe,” she said.

“But ever since the new pathway has been developed, it has been much safer. There is even seating along the path where pedestrians can sit and rest when they come from the village. The beautiful mosaics are another luxury on their own.

Sea Vista Patway Mosaics

GROUP EFFORT: Community members created mosaic art for the walkway based on the winning designs submitted by local children. Pictured are (from left) Zizipho Spani, Nosisa Sihlwayi, Nombuyiselo Zono and Nobantu Khabalaza (Image supplied)

“It’s now a pleasure to go to the village and we are not scared anymore. The Kouga Wind Farm Trust has done a great job indeed and we will be forever grateful.”

Sea Vista Pathway

: Inspecting the completed R1.7m pedestrian pathway linking the community of Sea Vista with the St Francis Bay CBD are (from left) site agent for Summertree Civils, Patrick Thandani, Kouga Wind Farm’s Economic Development Manager, Trevor Arosi, and project manager representing the St Francis Bay Property Owners Association, Nigel Aitken. (Image supplied)

Project manager Nigel Aitken said the need for a pathway was identified at a police sector meeting where problems with the informal pathway were highlighted.

“It was dangerous, not only because people were being mugged, but also because the path gets muddy when it rains and people slip,” he said.

“The community was involved every step of the way, including adding their own final touches to the artwork and landscaping that decorates the pathway.”

Kouga Wind Farm Trust trustee Maijang Mpherwane, who represents the IDC – a part funder of the Kouga Wind Farm – said: “We aim to use projects like this to provide a base upon which government and other corporates can build on, to address the various needs that exist within the communities we serve.”

As part of the project’s aim to harness local talent, civil engineering student Lesedi Marota was appointed as trainee project manager.

“It was a great foundation for my technical experience, and I can apply the experience I gained in the future,” he said. “Furthermore, eight members of the Sea Vista community who were employed for the duration of the project acquired a number of new technical skills that they can now draw on going forward.”

Aside from making the daily commute safer for residents, the initiative also helped to upskill local women as part of a community art project. The women were taught how to create mosaic art based on the winning designs submitted by local children. More than 200 entries were received from children of all ages – from tiny tots to high school learners.

The selected artworks were converted into long-lasting mosaic tile designs, placed along the pathway for all – including the young artists – to see and enjoy.

Marota said: “It is beautiful to look at but the main objective of the project was safety, as there had been a number of attacks in the area. This objective has definitely been achieved.”

MEDIA RELEASE – Good News Lab on behalf of Kouga Wind Farm Trust